Wednesday, 6/29/11

Onion 5:22 
NYT 4:05 (joon—paper) 
LAT 3:22 
CS 4:11 (Sam) 

Tony Orbach’s New York Times crossword

joon here, pinch-blogging for amy, who’s got family obligations tonight. tony riffs on an UM->OME sound change for his theme:

  • {Balding person’s directive to a barber?} is “COMB ON OVER.” ha! this was my favorite one.
  • {Meandering trip from Kingston to Montego Bay?} is a JAMAICAN ROAM. i was looking at JAMAICA_____ and couldn’t figure out how to stretch “roam” into five letters. *headslap* i think i subjected my mgwcc audience to the B-52′s “roam” a few weeks ago, so i won’t do that again. incidentally, did you know that ROAM could be a noun? i sure didn’t, but there it is in the dictionary.
  • {Covered stadium that’s off-limits to bands?} is a DON’T-PLAY DOME. love the base phrase, but this is a rather tortured interpretation.
  • {Protection for a fairy-tale dwarf’s brain?} is a GNOME SKULL. again, great base phrase, but meh.

oddly, three of these have to do with heads, but i don’t think that’s part of the theme.

as we’ve seen so often with tony’s CS puzzles, the fill is pretty scrabbly. i liked IXNAY and KNOX for some XX-rated action (there’s also XERS and AJAX, but we see those fairly often). KNOX had a good trivia clue: {Henry ___, first secretary of war}. i confess to being much quicker to pull that one from the recesses of my brain because i saw the same clue on jeopardy! last week (in a slightly easier form: “This general became our nation’s first Secretary of War & had a Kentucky fort named in his honor”, from the category “Revolutionary War Generals”).

speaking of trivia, did you know that j.d. SALINGER wrote “a perfect day for bananafish”? it’s the first story in nine stories, and one of the two best-known ones. the other, of course, gets a lot more play in crosswords.

tricky stuff:

  • {French tire} is PNEU. sometimes it’s good to know french—this is not a very intuitive-looking word, although it’s a cognate of things like pneumatic.
  • {“Lido Shuffle” singer Boz} SCAGGS is a name i have heard, but couldn’t come up with, part of my troubles in the NE area.
  • {January 2nd?} is SHORT A, the second letter of “january”. not the eve of my birthday.
  • {Chambers of commerce?} is a MALL. good clue, but tough. the other ? clues were not as tricky, although i did like {Famous last words?} for EPITAPH.
  • {Paul who co-starred in “I Love You, Man”} is RUDD. i needed the RU__ to remember him.
  • {Pequod co-owner} is PELEG. surprising how often this guy comes up. maybe he and OLEG (12-down) can down some grog together. also, his name looks ripe for a cryptic clue. {“Moby Dick” character has good prop for a pirate (6)}?

NOAM is clued as {First name in linguistics}. not {First name in number theory}?

this one landed somewhere between 3 and 4 stars for me. the theme was okay but not great, and the fill had some juice but also things like ABOIL, KAI, -OLA, and IT I. so i’ll round it down to a 3.

that’s all for me. see you at noon.

Francis Heaney’s Onion A.V. Club crossword

Onion AV Club crossword solution, Francis Heaney 6 30 11

My medical-editor bent kept me from grasping the theme in this puzzle. I imagine most people had no trouble seeing what was happening in an answer like BEATEN PATHOLOGY, but not me. I was waiting for the light to dawn on what the BEATEN part was originally and how it connected to PATHOLOGY. D’oh! Beaten path + -OLOGY. Luckily, the Top Gun in TOPOLOGY GUN did pop out at me. The other theme answers are BIOLOGY-CURIOUS and WAR CRYOLOGY, and 61a: DROP SCIENCE ON ‘EM is [What the constructor had to do to create the theme entries in this puzzle (boyeee)]. Okay, I think “boyeee” is a Flavor Flav thing, but DROP SCIENCE ON ‘EM doesn’t ring a bell. Once again, I fall victim to Inadequate Pop-Cultural Literacy Syndrome.

Highlights:

  • 1a. [Any piece by Girl Talk, e.g.] is a MASHUP. I like the fresh answer but didn’t understand the clue at all. IPCLS rears its head again.
  • 7a. [Intensifier after adjectives like big and weak] clues ASS, as in “big-ass.” Love it!
  • 22a. There is zero reason for the answer to [Year that will start seeming retro in 2070 or so] to be given in Roman numerals, but it’s certainly a fresher clue than I would have come up with for MML.
  • 32a. [A rat might wear one] clues a WIRE.
  • 67a. I deplore the general concept, but [Bros outrank them, some say] sure is a new clue for HOS.
  • 70a. Ha! [Item that coyotes can purchase via mail, apparently] is TNT. As in Wile E. Coyote and his preferred purveyor, Acme.
  • 10d. [Tinseltown, to a right-winger] is HOLLYWEIRD. Haven’t seen that in a puzzle before.

A couple mystery IPCLS items:

  • 56d. [Brand repeated in a Kreayshawn track title] is GUCCI.
  • 64d. [Atomic alternative] clues ION. Is this pop culture? I have no idea.

Four stars.

Jack McInturff’s Los Angeles Times crossword

LA Times crossword answers, 6 29 11

Took a bit to make sense of the theme, as G ≠ GEE. Each of the four starred answers starts with a word that can follow “G-”:

  • 17a. [*Fit perfectly] = SUIT TO A TEE. Very rarely does this phrase appear in a crossword, but the woeful TOAT and TOATEE do all the time. (Astronauts wear G-suits.)
  • 23a. [*Sexy beachwear] = STRING BIKINI. I’m not sure it’s an accurate clue. Is a string bikini sexy if Woody Allen wears it to the beach? (A G-string covers even less skin than a string bikini.)
  • 50a. [*Behavior made automatic from frequent repetition] = FORCE OF HABIT. (A G-suit comes in handy when it comes to withstanding massive G-force.)
  • 62a. [*Superhero nickname] = MAN OF STEEL, for Superman. (G-man is a government agent. Many are women. I don’t suppose there’s a theme in G-WOMAN?)
  • 39a. Tying it all together, ["Gosh!" (or, based on the starts of starred answers, one who is expert at solving this puzzle's theme?)] = GEE WHIZ.

I like the theme okay, and the fill includes a number of bright spots, such as NABOKOV, ONE FINE DAY (which I’ve seen), and NOSE AROUND. There are only a few of the older crosswordese-type answers I’ve called Jack McInturff on before: I think AZOV and SAAR are in puzzles a lot less frequently these days.

3.5 stars.
Updated Wednesday morning:

Doug Peterson’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Where’s the Beef?” – Sam Donaldson’s review

It’s a meaty theme today, as Peterson gives us four entries ending with words that can follow “beef:”

  • 17-Across: The ["Peanuts" character who calls Charlie Brown "Chuck"] is PEPPERMINT PATTY.  A “beef patty” is the puck-like disk served in a bun at most fast food restaurants.  Usually it is round, but at Wendy’s it is square–just like the missing tiles in the men’s bathroom.  Hey, you don’t suppose….
  • 26-Across: An [Inexpensive investment option] is a PENNY STOCK. Coincidentally, beef stock can be the start of an inexpensive but tasty soup.
  • 46-Across: HERKY-JERKY is a colorful way to describe [Moving erratically], and beef jerky is a wonderful high-protein snack that will keep you skinny.  Just ask Slim Jim.
  • 57-Across: The [Annual no-holds-barred celebrity tribute] is the FRIAR’S CLUB ROAST. I remember watching some of the roasts on television as a kid. But maybe that wasn’t the Friar’s Club event–the ones I remember were always hosted by Dean Martin, and they may have been called the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts.  In any case, they paved the way for some of the great roasts of today that air late nights on Comedy Central.

I’m assuming ON THE GO, the catchy entry at the center of the grid, is not a theme entry, as “beef go” and “go beef” are equally unfamiliar to me.

The 76/36 grid is remarkable for its wide-open look.  The stacked sixes on each side are a nice touch, as are the crossing sevens in the middle (the aforementioned ON THE GO and SO THERE).  Other notable fill includes EASY NOW (with the terrific clue, ["Let's just calm down"]), DEEP-SIX, and RUN D.M.C., the [Rap group that covered Aerosmith's "Walk This Way"].  This puzzle was right in my sweet spot (for me, any jpz time of under 5:00 is a quick solve, so by that standard this one was super-speedy).  I’m thinking several speed solvers will post sub-2:00 times here.

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14 Responses to Wednesday, 6/29/11

  1. Jan (danjan) says:

    I got burned by the ENOLA/ALI crossing – and Waterworld is one of the few movies I saw when it came out, hard as that is to admit. (I think we paid a babysitter, too.) I won’t forget it now – perhaps Enola Gay can take a much-needed vacation.

  2. joon says:

    jan, i didn’t know that crossing either, but (1) arabic name A_I pretty much had to be ALI, and (2) ENO_A pretty much had to be ENOLA regardless of the clue. editors love new clues for familiar repeaters; they don’t really love obscure unusual names.

    (i assume the yemeni dude has been in the news recently, but i don’t read the news.)

  3. Amy Reynaldo says:

    You know who just saw Paul RUDD? Your friendly neighborhood member of Team Fiend, Janie, and top solver Anne Erdmann. They all saw Chinglish together at the Goodman Theater in Chicago last week.

  4. Anne E says:

    Yes, and thanks to Janie pointing him out, I got this answer today! I actually said “Thanks, Janie” out loud while solving. And speaking of thanks, belated thanks to Amy and Janie for a wonderful evening of dinner and theater in Chicago last week – it was great to see you both!

  5. tony orbach says:

    Sounds like a nice time was had by a great group in Chicago – beats gearing up for summer in nyc!

    Joon, thanks for the write-up – I only wish we could put YEMENIDUDE in a grid: that would be a much more interesting solve! We could have it cross CHINGLISH and the theme could be today’s blog!!

    Best,
    Tony

  6. janie says:

    yep — the RUDD sighting was a week ago tonight. the play has received *excellent* reviews, its leading man is james waterston (son of sam…), and a move to b’way has been announced (apparently by-passing its announced move to the public theatre [with whom this was a co-production]). getting to spend time w/ amy and anne on my sojourn to the windy city only made a great first visit there even better. that is one tourist-/user-friendly city!!

    oh, yeah — lots to like in today’s puzzles, too!

    ;-)

  7. ArtLvr says:

    For me, the Onion wasn’t wHOLLY WEIRD, but enough off the BEATEN PATH that I gave up before getting all of it… Clever, though.

  8. John Haber says:

    Good write-up, and I, too, just figured ALI made sense as a name, although that corner was easily the hardest. Is it just me, or is the repeated clue type of (say) “short A,” “soft C,” and “silent L” getting really frequent and really trite?

  9. Gareth says:

    The kalahari does not have oases to my knowledge!! Otherwise, cs puzzle was chockfull of zingy 6 And 7 Letter answers! Really popping grid! My 3:04 JPZ time also suggests an easy puzzle, despite typing rooney and not rourke initially!

  10. Toby says:

    “64d. [Atomic alternative] clues ION. Is this pop culture? I have no idea.”

    An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ion

  11. Aaron says:

    I’ll third the notion that the CS puzzle seemed very easy; I went through it in about Gareth’s time, plus or minus a few seconds (using the Washington Post’s applet). Sad, though, for a moment there I thought I was just getting faster. :P

    (Must prepare for Lollapuzoola.)

  12. Amy Reynaldo says:

    @Toby, thanks. I was parsing the clue as “alternative to ‘atomic’” rather than adjective-modifying noun.

  13. Mike says:

    @ Onion/A.V C. Though fresh, this puzzle felt undisciplined, Amy. You note its lack of Roman Numeral indication (22a, “MML”), but I’ll add its failure to indicate abbreviation in 61d (“DJs”) and 69a (“STDs”). Not so sure about 20a (“EMTs”) or 70a (“TNT”), as these acronyms may have moved nominally into the CW lexicon. I’m still a newbie. Yet, I expected some playful phrasing in 30d (“Telescope”) given its 10d reflection (“Hollyweird”). And can anyone explain 57a’s “Hee” as an answer to a “sound heard in a Lamaze class”?

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